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#GPnews: Dr Sarah Wollaston MP attacks ‘downgraded’ obesity plan

16:55 Elsewhere this afternoon, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has joined many others in criticising the Government’s childhood obesity strategy that was published earlier today, adding that it is ‘underwhelming and disappointing.’ 

Oliver, who has been a leading campaigner for healthier eating in schools and also championed the introduction of a ‘sugar tax’, said there was some good ideas in the strategy but lamented the report’s lack of ambition – arguing that it was a chance to start to ‘remove the crippling financial burden from our NHS and reversing the tide of diet-related disease.’ 

15:16 Defrosting of the Siberian tundra is threatening to cause a return of the smallpox virus – eradicated in 1977 – as corpses buried during the major epidemic 120 ago see the light of day again, the Independent reports.

Boris Kershengolts, of the Siberian branch of the Academy of Sciences, said: ‘Back in the 1890s, there occurred a major epidemic of smallpox. There was a town where up to 40% of the population died. 

‘Naturally, the bodies were buried under the upper layer of permafrost soil, on the bank of the Kolyma River. Now, a little more than 100 years later, Kolyma’s floodwaters have started eroding the banks.’

Smallpox used to cause pus-filled spots and a high fever, with almost a third of sufferers killed by the virus.

14:00 London Councils have joined the chorus of negative voices on the childhood obesity strategy, because it failed to hand local authorities more regulatory powers.

Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE, London Councils’ executive member for health, said London boroughs are spending £16m this year alone on tackling childhood obesity because they are ‘keenly aware that prevention and early intervention will make a huge difference to children’s lives and manage future health and social care costs’.

According to Ms O’Neill, boroughs in the capital are ‘using their wider local planning powers to ensure hot food takeaways do not cluster near schools, training frontline staff to offer support if they recognise childhood obesity and working with food businesses to encourage them to offer healthy alternatives’.

But Ms O’Neill said: ‘The Government’s childhood obesity strategy could have gone so much further by strengthening local authority powers so they have more freedom to give health and wellbeing the priority it deserves.’

12:18 The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has released a helpful list of six lesser known symptoms of depression. While an inability to leave bed in the morning is a classic symptom, the NIMH says that difficult falling asleep, waking up really early and feeling exhausted even after a night’s rest can also indicate depression.

The list also notes that a loss of appetite, psychosomatic pain, a change in music preferences, reduced concentration and anger can be underlying symptoms of depression.

The Independent has the full list.

10:57 House of Commons health committee chair and former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston MP has gone on the offensive against the DH childhood obesity plan via Twitter.

The Conservative MP for Totnes said that the ‘downgraded’ plan was ‘sadly now a very short read’.

She said about the strategy: ‘Big interests have trumped those of children in dumping advertising and promotion from the childhood obesity strategy.

‘In downgrading the obesity “plan” many important opportunities have been lost to improve children’s diets and tackle health inequality.’

She added that the wording in the final paragraph of the plan ‘really sticks in your throat and shows the triumph of industry lobbyists’.

The paragraph includes the sentence: ‘We are confident that our approach will reduce childhood obesity while respecting consumer choice, economic realities and, ultimately, our need to eat.’

Dr Wollaston added: ‘Sadly the life expectancy gap [is] not such a “burning injustice” after all if this childhood obesity plan is the shape of things to come.’

09:30 One of the country’s leading GP experts on childhood obesity has called for health secretary Jeremy Hunt to ‘apologise’ for the plan to cut increasing rates of childhood obesity.

Indeed, GP experts have not taken kindly to the strategy finally published today by the Department of Health.

Click here to read the full story


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